Javascript is currently disabled. This site requires Javascript to function correctly. Please enable Javascript in your browser!

Saint Vergilius of Salzburg

Saint Vergilius of Salzburg
  • Century: 8th Century
  • Patronage:
  • Feast Day: November 27th

St. Vergilius was from a noble family in Ireland, and was educated in the Iona Monastery.  He is said to have been a descendant of “Nail of the Nine Hostages”.  In the “Annals of Four Masters” he is mentioned as Abbot of Aghaboe.  In 745 he left Ireland, to visit the Holy Land, but seemed to have adopted the practice as a work of piety, and settled in France.  After spending two years at Cressy, he went to Bavaria, at the invitation of Duke Odilo.  There he founded the Monastery of Chiemsee, and within a year was made Abbot of St. Peter’s at Salzburg.  Out of humility he “concealed his orders” and had a bishop named Dobdagrecus, a fellow countryman, appointed to perform his Episcopal functions for him. 

While attending as Abbot of St. Peter’s, he came into a collision with St. Boniface.  A Priest, having through ignorance, conferred the Sacrament of Baptism using in place of the correct formula, the word “Absolutus” meaning “Authorized”.  St. Vergilius held that the sacrament had been validly conferred, but St. Boniface complained to Pope Zachary.  The Pope decided in favor of St. Vergilius.  Later on, St. Boniface accused Vergilius of spreading discord between himself and the Duke of Bavaria, and for teaching a doctrine in regard to the “rotundity of the earth”, which was contrary to Scriptures.  Pope Zachary’s decision in this case was that “if it shall be clearly established that he professes belief in another world and other people existing beneath the earth, or in another sun or moon there, thou art to hold a council, and deprive him of his sacerdotal rank, and expel him from the Church”. 

We no longer possess the papers in which St. Vergilius expounded his doctrine, however, two things are certain.  First, that there was involved, the problem of “origianl sin”, and the universality of redemption.  Secondly, St. Vergilius succceeded in freeing himself from the charge of teaching a doctrine contrary to Scripture.  Most likely St. Boniface was already biased against St. Vergilius because of his theory of “original sin”, misunderstanding him, taking it for granted, that if there are antipodes, the “other race of men” are not descendants of Adam were not redeemed by Christ.  This is not was Vergilius taught. 

After the martyrdom of St. Boniface, St. Vergilius was made Bishop of Salzburg in 766.  He labored successfully for the upbuilding of his diocese as well as for the spread of Christianity, especially in neighboring countries like Carinthia.  He died at Salzburg on November 27, 784.  He left a reputation for learning and holiness.  In 1233, he was canonized by Pope Gregory IX.  His doctrine that the earth is a sphere was derived from the teachings of ancient geographers.  His belief in anitpodes was probably influenced by the accounts of those Irish voyagers as they gave count of their journeys. 

Practical Take Away
St. Vergilius was from Ireland, and was a holy man.  He went on to become the Bishop of Salzburg, and did much to spread Christianity, not only in his area, but also in the neighboring country of Carinthia.  He was noted for both his holiness, as well as his learning.  He believed and preached that the earth was a sphere, something that brought a lot of controversy in his time, especially with his colleague, St. Boniface.